Frequently Asked Questions
Pavement parking – why is it a problem?
Poorly parked vehicles can force pedestrians into the road. They can inhibit the independence of many vulnerable people and be particularly dangerous for older people, for families with pushchairs and for those with visual or mobility impairments. Pavement parking can also damage pavements, creating trip hazards for pedestrians: costing local authorities, and therefore all of us, millions of pounds in maintenance and preventive measures.
With an ageing population- there will be 1.3 million pensioners by 2031- more cars on the road and less money for maintenance, it is essential we take practical steps to ensure our streets can be safely used by the whole population, whether on foot, using a wheelchair or in their car.
What is the definition of a dropped kerb or raised crossing?
The Traffic Management Act (2004) in England and Wales provides the following definition:
“[Where] the footway, cycle track or verge has been lowered to meet the level of the carriageway for the purpose of—
(i)assisting pedestrians crossing the carriageway,
(ii)assisting cyclists entering or leaving the carriageway, or
(iii)assisting vehicles entering or leaving the carriageway across the footway, cycle track or verge; or
(b)the carriageway has, for a purpose within paragraph (a)(i) to (iii), been raised to meet the level of the footway, cycle track or verge.”
Who is responsible for enforcing parking restrictions?
Local councils can apply to take over parking responsibilities from the police. This is called decriminalisation because parking offences become civil rather than criminal. In other areas where the local council has not applied to take over the police will still be responsible for enforcement. The parking section of your council’s website should tell you the situation in your area.
In Scotland 7 local authorities operate a decriminalised parking enforcement (DPE) system. These are Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, South Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire and Perth and Kinross. South Ayrshire, East Ayrshire and Fife Councils are in the process of applying for these powers.
What powers do local councils have?
Local councils have powers under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 to restrict or prohibit pavement parking on individual streets by the making of a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO).
What is the situation in London?
Pavement parking is banned throughout the 32 London boroughs and the City of London under the Greater London (General Purposes) Act 1974. The Highway Code says ‘You MUST NOT park partially or wholly on the pavement in London’. All councils in London can and should enforce this law by issuing parking tickets to any vehicles parked on pavements, unless there is a sign there that specifically permits it.
Is it illegal?
Bizarrely, it is illegal to drive on the pavement but not explicitly illegal to park on the pavement. For example, the Central Scotland police state:
“It is an offence for any person to drive on or obstruct the footpath. However, to take enforcement action the police require evidence of the vehicle being driven.” (www.safercentral.com/faq/motoring.php)
Police have power under section 137 of the Highways Act 1980 which makes it an offence to wilfully obstruct the free passage of the highway.
The Highway Code makes the expected behaviour clear:
“243 DO NOT stop or park where the kerb has been lowered to help wheelchair users and powered mobility vehicles
244 You MUST NOT park partially or wholly on the pavement in London, and should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it. Parking on the pavement can obstruct and seriously inconvenience pedestrians, people in wheelchairs or with visual impairments and people with prams or pushchairs.”
How would this legislation affect lorries?
This legislation should discourage lorries from parking inconsiderately. The Highway Code states:
“246 Goods vehicles. Vehicles with a maximum laden weight of over 7.5 tonnes (including any trailer) MUST NOT be parked on a verge, pavement or any land situated between carriageways, without police permission. The only exception is when parking is essential for loading and unloading, in which case the vehicle MUST NOT be left unattended.”
Is this a recent problem?
It should be reflected that there is a significant history of failed legislation in this area. In 1974: Parliamentary provision for a national ban in urban areas (S7 Road Traffic Act 1974 inserted Section 36B into Road Traffic Act 1972). Local authorities could exempt specific streets. The full implementation of 36B required a Parliamentary Order- which never occurred in 5 years. In 1979, the government decided to defer implementation of section 36B indefinitely.
In 1986 a DfT discussion paper Pavement Parking-Curbing an Abuse was published, identifying 4 possible options: more private legislation by local authorities; more TROs by local authorities; implementation of 1974 Act’s national ban; or amendment to 1974 Act to permit local authorities to introduce the ban using TRO procedure. However, no action was subsequently taken.
The 1988 Road Traffic Act 1972 repealed S36B became S19A of the Road Traffic Act 1988 No regulations introduced. 1991 Road Traffic Act 1991 (section 83 and schedule 8 ) repealed section 19A.
Why is a Scotland-wide approach being taken?
In 2010, Ross Finnie MSP consulted on a legislative approach involving Traffic Regulation Orders on a local authority by local authority basis that would achieve the same purpose. Many responses, including from a number of local authorities, for example, West Lothian, Edinburgh & Fife indicated that it would be simpler and more cost-effective to take a Scotland-wide approach.
It would be important for police traffic wardens, in the many areas of Scotland which don’t have decriminalised parking regimes to be able to take enforcement action, as a result of this legislation, in order for a deterrent effect to be throughout Scotland.
What support has there been for legislation?
The House of Commons Transport Committee 2006 inquiry on parking said:
“The Government must grip the problem of pavement parking once and for all and ensure that it is outlawed throughout the country, and not just in London. Councils should have the option of an ‘opt-out’ of a national pavement parking ban where this is vital, rather than relying on the use of individual Traffic Regulation Orders on specific streets and local Acts to impose a ban. That such an initiative will initially require additional resources to enforce is no excuse for allowing some pavements to continue to be swamped by cars and made inaccessible to large numbers of pedestrians. (Paragraph 262)”
When regulations on dropped kerb parking were introduced in England, Chair of the Joint Committee on Mobility for Disabled People Joe Hennessy said:
“Inconsiderate parking at dropped kerbs is a substantial barrier to the mobility of disabled people particularly at crossing points.” The consultation during 2008 showed clear overall support from both the public and private sectors for these, with 77% in favour.
What is the police view?
Lothian and Borders Police, Scottish Ambulance Service, Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service, Capability Scotland and City of Edinburgh Council all signed up to a 2007 campaign to stop pavement parking. Lothian and Borders Police Superintendent O’Kane said: “Pavements are for pedestrians. Unfortunately, more and more drivers deem it acceptable to use the pavements and verges for their convenience to the detriment of pedestrians.”